State backtracks on plan to withhold Covid vaccine from some counties

Iowa health officials have reversed a decision to withhold COVID-19 vaccines from some counties that were reported as not having used up to 80% of their allocation last week.

The Iowa Department of Public Health informed five counties on Friday that it would withhold this week’s allotment of vaccine. The decision drew criticism from several county health administrators, who said either that the state was mistaken or that bad weather had temporarily slowed their progress.

The announcement followed a new state rule requiring the use of at least 80% of a county’s vaccination allotment. The rule is designed to reduce the amount of vaccine sitting in storage.

As of Monday, three of the counties — Buchanan, Washington and Chickasaw — reported that state officials had informed them they would be getting their allotment of vaccines this week, the Des Moines Register reported.

Tai Burkhart, director of the Buchanan County health department, said her county actually had used at lease 80% of its allotment last week, but that because one of its vaccination clinics was held on Friday, state officials who had used Thursday figures thought the county was behind.

Iowa’s current focus in its vaccination effort is on seniors, teachers and child care workers, police and firefighters. By midday Monday, state officials reported that 355,703 people had received at least one dose needed for full protection.

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